by Anton Onato
The University of the Philippines rallied in the first three quarters and kept the game close before collapsing at endgame and bowed to the University of Santo Tomas, 79-69, in their first round meeting of UAAP Season 76 Basketball Tournament Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Despite missing star guard Jeric Teng, who suffered a massive shoulder injury in their game against National University, the Tigers banked on a balanced team effort with four boys scoring in double digits.
“Mahaba pa ang season na ito, kaya masaya ako na kahit na wala si Jeric ay nag-step up halos lahat ng mga players ko at ipinapanalo ang game na ito,” said the jubilant Coach Pido Jarencio.
Rookie Kyles Lao delivered early and scored after a Moriah Gingerich triple, 15-10, but guard Aljon Mariano responded scoring six consecutive points inside the paint, 21-15.
Andrew Harris and Chris Ball conspired for a 6-0 run early in the second quarter to threaten at 26-25. UST answered with a Clark Bautista scoring spree capped by a buzzer-beating trey to surge ahead by four at halftime, 35-31.
The Fighting Maroons once again inched closer on a Jason Ligad trey, 35-34, to open the third quarter. UST’s forward Kim Lo then knocked down two perimeter shots after a Karim Abdul dunk giving the Tigers their first double digit lead at 48-38.
UP’s Martin Pascual responded with a trey followed by a Marata jumper to no avail as Ferrer continued with his barrage of bank shots, 56-48. Bautista continued the damage in the final period to keep the Maroons at bay for good.
UST’s backcourt outrebounded UP, 46-39, and also had a better offensive rhythm averaging 45.2 percent from the field against UP’s 38.6 percent.
Marata was the lone Maroon who scored in double digits with 16 points. Lao added nine points while Pascual, Ball and Julius Wong, had seven apiece. Ball also grabbed 11 rebounds.
Mariano topscored the UST side registering a game-high 18 points. Ferrer added 16 points while Abdul and Bautista had 14 and 12 points, respectively.
The Tigers improved to 4-2 and are now solo in second spot behind the unbeaten Tamaraws while the Maroons stayed in the cellar with a 0-6 slate.
UP will next meet the University of the East Red Warriors on Saturday for their last game in the first round.
UST 79 – Mariano 18, Ferrer 16, Abdul 14, Bautista 12, Lo 9, So 4, Daquioag 4, Pe 2, Tan 0, Macasaet 0, Lao 0, Hainga 0, Faundo 0
UP 69 – Marata 16, Lao 9, Wong 7, Pascual 7, Ball 7, Ligad 6, Gingerich 5, Suarez 4, Harris 4, Asilum 4, Gallarza 0
Quarter Scores: 21-15, 35-31, 56-48, 79-69